Let your kids be fascinated by the art & science of gems at Van Cleef & Arpels

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

[Media Invite]

What is the weight of the largest quartz crystal ever found in the Alps? (answer will be revealed at the end of this post)

Largest quartz crystal found in the Alps

The only time I paid attention to details of gems and jewellery was when I was shopping for our wedding bands. It wasn't my style and character to wear or collect expensive jewellery. So a trip to the ArtScience Museum for its latest Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems was eye-opening because I have never come so close to that many couture jewellery and gemstones in my life. This exhibition features over 450 pieces, carefully selected from the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection and those of private collectors, along with over 250 rare gems and minerals from the renowned collection of the French National Museum of Natural History.

I went for the exhibition like a child, eager to be amazed and to learn, and I did!

:: What is the Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems about?
Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems is not just an exhibition of jewellery and gems. It explores the inter-relationship between the science of mineralogy and the art of the finest jewellery and gems. If you think that your kids are not of age to appreciate such art, do not fret. The ArtScience Museum has educational activities and workshops specially catered to the kids for them to better understand the subject (read below for kids' activities).

A piece of extraordinary jewellery is made with so much precision and passion. There is so much to learn from this unique exhibition - the art, craftsmanship, history and earth science. We were brought on an astonishing journey right from the start of it all - the origin of minerals and how these form gems through seven major principles (pressure, temperature, transport, water, oxygen, life, and metamorphism. The journey continues with the exquisite craftsmanship that transfigures these rare minerals into fine works of art by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Set for Smoker & Art Deco Night Light made with quartz and other gemstones

Founded in Paris in 1906, the French company Van Cleef & Arpels is renowned for its high quality and innovation in all its jewellery and watches. Ch and I were mesmerised by the skills of the expert craftsmen and their trade through the videos shown.

The Zip necklace is an example of artistic innovation. Produced in 1950, this creation is notable for being able to open and close like a zipper, and be worn as a necklace or a bracelet. The necklace has become Van Cleef & Arpels' iconic piece of jewellery. Fun fact: Hollywood star Margot Robbie wore a similar replica of the Zip necklace to the Oscars in 2015. She declared, "the necklace is worth more than my life!". Well, probably so, as it was listed as an astounding price of $1.5 million!

Zip necklace. Made of platinum, gold, rubies and diamonds
Other pieces in the collection

:: Is the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition suitable for kids?
As I mentioned, I went for the exhibition like a child, and I learnt ... so much!

There are various activities set up around different parts of the exhibition for kids. They can discover and learn different geometrical shapes and patterns, fashion their own jewellery out of cardboard and recreate a jewel on a touch screen.

We attended the hour-long workshop "A Day in the Life of a Mineralogist". This hands-on workshop reveals the working methods and collections of a mineralogist - one who studies minerals. How cool is that!

My takeaway from this workshop: As a Chemistry teacher, I've taught about various minerals like sulfur, fluoride and diamond. It was fascinating even for me to see these and touch them in real life and to learn more about how they form inside our planet. The kids can come up close to observe the minerals, shine light on them, do the hardness test, etc. Being an hour-long, some of the younger kids got a little distracted after a while, but the older ones were captivated and even stayed on after the workshop ended.

You can still catch the last session of this workshop this Friday, 24 Jun from 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm. It is complimentary to ticket holders of Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems. Recommended for children aged 6 and above. The workshop has a capacity of up to 20 participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Will need to register 15 minutes before workshop starts. 

Ch could not believe her eyes when she saw a diamond being passed around for us to take a look. "It's a diamond!", she exclaimed.

Peeking at a diamond under the microscope

There will be another workshop in July - Make Your Own Soap Gems. Through a tactile experience involving soap, the kids will learn to identify the different cuts of gemstones used to make Van Cleef & Arpels creation.

It is complimentary to ticket-holders of this exhibition and is recommended for children aged 6 and above. The workshop has a capacity of up to 20 participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Will need to register 15 minutes before workshop starts.

When: 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 July (Friday)
Time: 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

So yes, whether you are into bling jewellery or a novice like us, you will find the Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art and Science of Gems exhibition an intriguing and educational experience for the family.

More info about the Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art & Science of Gems
Duration: 23 April - 14 August 2016
Venue: ArtScience Museum, 6 Bayfront Avenue, S018974
Opening hours: Daily, 10 am - 7 pm (last admission at 6 pm)
Parking: Nearest car park is the North Car Park at Marina Bay Sands
Admission fees (in SGD): ranging from $6 for child (2-12 years) to $17 for adult. Family packages available. More details here.

Public guided tours in English or Mandarin are available on specific days. Check the programmes schedule here. 

Oh ya, revealing the answer to the first question in this post, that quartz crystal weighs no less than 800 kilograms.

{We were invited to the event for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was given and all opinions are ours.}

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  1. Looks like a fantastic event. The photos are depicting it all. Thanks for this interesting share. Currently busy in finding suitable wedding venues in Atlanta for our daughter’s wedding. Hoping to find and book one soon.

    1. Thanks for visiting! And best wishes for your daughter! Hope you manage to find a good wedding venue soon!


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